Business & Technology

On carbon: Tax, and spend wisely

What investments should be made with carbon tax revenue?

Monica Prasad had an op-ed in The New York Times yesterday called "On Carbon: Tax, Don’t Spend." It’s … peculiar. This basic pitch: "if reducing emissions is the goal, then a carbon tax is a tax you want to impose but never collect." That is to say, per the headline, you Don’t Spend the tax revenue. Far as I can tell, though, what Prasad calls not spending looks al lot like what the rest of us call spending. She says the revenue from the tax should be returned to industry in the form of investments, "earmarking much of it to …

The biggest source of mistakes: carbon vs. carbon dioxide

A factor of 3.67 makes a big difference when discussing climate

The biggest source of confusion and errors in climate discussions probably concerns "carbon" versus "carbon dioxide." I was reminded of this last week when I saw an analysis done for a major environmental group that confused the two and hence was wrong by a large factor (3.67). The paragraph I usually include in my writing: Some people use carbon rather than carbon dioxide as a metric. The fraction of carbon in carbon dioxide is the ratio of their weights. The atomic weight of carbon is 12 atomic mass units, while the weight of carbon dioxide is 44, because it includes two oxygen atoms that each weigh 16. So, to switch from one to the other, use the formula: One ton of carbon equals 44/12 = 11/3 = 3.67 tons of carbon dioxide. Thus 11 tons of carbon dioxide equals 3 tons of carbon, and a price of $30 per ton of carbon dioxide equals a price of $110 per ton of carbon.

ECO:nomics: A chat with Jim Rogers

Duke Energy CEO defends the need for free permit allocations

One of the most interesting political dynamics emerging around climate policy is the clash between coal utilities and utilities that rely more on natural gas and nuclear. (Most of the former are regulated, while most of the latter are, to one extent or another, deregulated or restructured.) Gas and nuke utilities stand to benefit from a cap-and-trade program that prices carbon steeply and quickly, since their fleets are already (relatively) low-carbon. Coal utilities, on the other hand, are CO2-intensive and are pushing for measures to ease the transition to low-carbon technology. The main such measure is allocating — that is, …

Strike a blow against palm oil madness

Rainforest Action Network’s new pledge petition

The following post is by Earl Killian, guest blogger at Climate Progress. ----- In Hell and High Water, Joe lays out his proposals for how to slow down our greenhouse-gas emissions in the first half of this century, giving us the breathing space to eliminate them in the second half. His program primarily consists of deploying existing technology, and it is quite doable, should we find the political will. His last proposal, however, is to "stop all tropical deforestation, while doubling the rate of new tree planting." I've always considered this to be the toughest item on his list to acheive. So it is encouraging to find a group that is working directly on pieces of the problem. Rainforest Action Network has launched a campaign to stop U.S. agribusiness expansion in the rainforests. In a recent action, they have asked Archer Daniels Midland to sign a pledge to halt their palm oil madness. In particular, the pledge asks ADM to "once and for all commit to halting all direct or indirect engagement with companies that destroy tropical rainforest ecosystems for industrial biofuels."

Give it away, now

Interesting research findings on wealth and happiness

Photo: sean-b via Flickr University of British Columbia researchers have put a price tag on happiness. The good news: It's available for the low price of $5. The better news: You can't spend that money on yourself. Instead, to get the most smiles per dollar, you have to spend money on other people. Dr. Elizabeth Dunn at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver and colleagues found that [experimental subjects] report significantly greater happiness if they spend money "pro-socially" -- that is on gifts for others or on charitable donations -- rather than spending on themselves. The researchers apparently looked at three different kinds of studies: a nationwide survey, a specific study of how employees spent their bonuses, and a controlled experiment on psychology undergrads. In all cases, the evidence showed that giving money away made people happier. In fact, donating as little as $5 was enough to boost happiness on any given day. But the amount of money people spent on themselves had no appreciable effect on how happy they were. In short, new research confirms an old adage: it really is better to give than to receive. But, on a somewhat more dismal note, there's another route to convert money into happiness: choose friends who aren't as wealthy as you are.

Truckers slowing down to increase fuel efficiency

You think filling up your car is a pain in the wallet? Try being a trucker. Most big rigs get less than 10 miles to the gallon, and diesel fuel is hovering near $4 a gallon in many places. “For every one-penny increase in the price of diesel, it costs our industry $391 million,” says a trucking industry spokesperson. In response, many trucking companies are instructing their drivers to ease off the throttle. Slowing from 75 miles per hour to 65 mph can increase fuel efficiency by more than a mile per gallon. And along with burning less fuel, slowed-down …

‘Ahead of the Curve: Business Responds to Climate Change’

Here is an absolutely stellar video from Sea Studios productions called "Ahead of the Curve: Business Responds to Climate Change": (via Steve Clemons)

Gore group will launch climate marketing campaign

Photo: World Resources Institute Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection plans to spend more than $300 million over the next three years on a marketing campaign aimed at getting Americans to address climate change. With ads developed by the Martin Agency (the folks behind the Geico cavemen and chatty gecko) and partnerships with grassroots groups, the campaign focus will be on the how-to aspect of cutting greenhouse gases. “Right now, we have incredible numbers of people in the U.S. who say global warming is an important problem that needs to be fixed,” says the Martin Agency’s Mike Hughes. “But most …

Meat wagon: pork superbug!

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria thrives in CAFO pork, and Wall Street gobbles up Big Meat shares

In Meat Wagon, we round up the latest outrages from the meat industry. Back in December, Michael Pollan wrote a important article about the antibiotic resistant bacteria MSRA, which Pollan decsribed like this: … the very scary antibiotic-resistant strain of Staphylococcus bacteria that is now killing more Americans each year than AIDS — 100,000 infections leading to 19,000 deaths in 2005, according to estimates in The Journal of the American Medical Association. Pollan writes that such strains have been around for a while, emanating from hospitals, where our medical experts quixotically drench patients with antibiotics, inevitably incubating resistant — and …

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